Report from Hannah:
It’s starting to become a bit of a tradition that a small contingency of Otley AC runners turn up at a local LDWA event and myself, Sara Richard, Liz Fawcett, Mary Hampshire, Tom Lynch, Ed Davies and Laura McCabe all lined up for this year’s Blubberhouses 25, which is actually 24 miles these days after a change to the route a few years ago. Sara, Liz and I were hoping to stick together to make the day more enjoyable. However, Sara had started with a bad knee on Friday and was concerned she wouldn’t make it round but was keen to give it a go and see how far she got. I was going to try and keep up with the other two as best I could as they have usually been far too quick for me to comfortably stay with for more than a few miles but as I’d done the route before I was also happy that I wouldn’t get lost if I did need to go it alone.
For those people that don’t know about LDWA events, they are organised by local Long Distance Walking Association groups who have opened them up to people wanting to run the routes alongside the walkers and they are cheap to enter, really low key, friendly events. There is no time pressure to run the whole distance as the cut offs are based on walking so it’s a great way to get into long distance off road running. Oh and there are check points with snacks and drinks and a meal at the end. What’s not to like?
So at 8:30 am on Sunday morning, as is standard at these events, it was a very low key send off for the runners and walkers from Norwood Village Hall with advice from the starter that we might need our snorkels for the bogs on Beamsley / Timble Moor. After weeks of snow and rain I think we all expected lots of mud and we were all dreading Roundhill bog and the prospect of falling into it never to be seen again, or was that just my nightmare?
The route takes you down the road from the village to Swinsty Reservoir, across the Dam, up to Fewston Reservoir to Blubberhouses. So far so good, nice and solid underfoot and feet still dry as puddles had been avoided. Here we cross the busy A59 climbing over the barriers, down some steps to a path that follows the River Washburn to Thruscross Reservoir. I absolutely love this section as it’s so pretty but by god was it muddy, our feet were now very dirty and at times it was hard work to stay upright. The first refreshment stop was in the carpark at Thruscross with some very tasty flapjack to keep us going up the road and onto the Moor up to Rocking Hall. Again this is a good track which is very runnable and at the Hall there is the best fruit cake waiting for you with lumps of cheese. Sara and I would have stayed there all day eating it but it was a quick grab of food and off we go again.
From there you head down to Bolton Park Farm, down to the river and hang a left to follow it towards Storiths. Then the fun begins again with very muddy fields and lots of stiles to climb whilst heading for Deerstones and a nasty climb up to the car park at the foot of Beamsley Beacon. This is where the best of the days checkpoint is and we were all ready for a cup of coffee and some food to refuel before we tackled the next section, so we enjoyed a brief stop to stretch and natter with the marshals. We were all getting a bit tired by now but knew that the hardest section was to come, the climb up Beamsley Beacon and then across the moor to Roundhill and Timble. It was a walker up Beamsley Beacon and we paused at the top to get our breath and for a selfie before hitting the moor and the bogs. It didn’t start off too bad but we soon started having to zig zag our way across the moor trying to avoid the bigger bogs with one large detour round one of two large bogs on Roundhill. It was a miracle, none of us fell in and no one lost their trainers! As we carried on alongside Timble Woods to Ellarcarr Pike Liz was obviously enjoying the moorland section and was on a roll leading us up to the next check point. I on the other hand was in a lot of pain with my dodgy ankles and every time I lost my feet in a cold bog it was actually quite refreshing and I could have done with standing there awhile to soak my swollen ankles.
Once we hit the farm track at Ellarcarr Pike we were all ready to finish, with a nice firm track and road ahead of us for a couple of miles we got our heads down and kept moving as quick as possible till we hit the fields behind Timble that lead back down to Swinsty dam. Where we once again hit the mud and stiles that were becoming more difficult to climb, we kept the pace up across the muddy fields and across the dam till we came to the last network of fields that took us back to Norwood. By then we all agreed that there was no way we could run up the hill so we conserved what energy we had for the final bit of tarmac by walking the hill and after a final sprint finish (ok maybe a quick jog) we made it back to the village hall 5 hours and 44 minutes after starting.
Official results are not out as yet, however, Mary finished with her friend a couple of minutes before us, we could see her as we were coming off the reservoir and managed to close in on her until we got to the fields where she still had the energy to run up them. Tom Lynch was all clean and fresh looking waiting for us after finishing in around 3:20 and we think he came 3rd overall beating Ed who wasn’t far behind him. Ex Otley AC member Gary Cochrane was also there after a long time off running due to injury it was good to see him back at it and I believe he finished around the same time as Mary. We didn’t see Laura again but I’ve heard that she finished in about 4:30.
Sara knocked 7 minutes off her time from last year, her knee was absolutely fine the whole way round thanks to a knee support, and I was chuffed to knock 32 minutes off my time from last year.
Same again next year I think, along with a few other members maybe?